Isaac Izuu Makwala of Botswana in action at the 2012 African Athletics Championships in Porto-Novo, Benin Republic / Photo credit: Yomi Omogbeja

Botswana’s Isaac Makwala has been invited to compete at the maiden Athletix Grand Prix Series at the Ruimsig Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa on 1 March, 2018.

Makwala, who last competed in the IAAF Diamond League meeting last September, would be using the series to kickstart the 2018 season.

The Athletix Grand Prix Series, organised by Athletics South Africa (ASA), would feature three track and field meetings in March, one month prior to the Commonwealth Games.

Makwala said in an interview this week that he’s excited about the opportunity to compete in the Series, where he would take part both as an individual and as part of the national relay team.

“I have not been competing because I want to approach this season in a different way. Training has been good and I am ready for the Grand Prix,” he said.

Makwala said his plan is to retain the IAAF Diamond league title and win the Continental cup. He said he would use the Grand Prix series to gauge his readiness for the Commonwealth Games.

Botswana is sending two 4x400m relay teams, the men and women’s squads, to compete at the series.

The secretary general of the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA), Raymond Phale, said the women’s team has a new member Tlhomphang Basele who is replacing Lydia Jele.

Jele was suspended after testing positive for a banned substance. The other team members are Leungo Matlhaku, Christine Botlogetswe and Amantle Montsho. The men’s team is made up of Makwala, Karabo Sibanda, Baboloki Thebe, Onkabetse Nkobolo, Nijel Amos and Leaname Maotoanong.

Phale said the Botswana team is using the Grand Prix to prepare for the Commonwealth Games. He said the aim is for Southern African region to win more medals than other regions at the Commonwealth.

Some of the top athletes who have confirmed their participation at the ASA Athletix Grand Prix Series included South Africans Akani Simbine and Anaso Jobodwana, and World 100m champion Justin Gatlin.

Meanwhile, as the BAA super night series gets underway tomorrow night at the Lobatse stadium, Matlhaku said she wants to set a new personal best by end of the season.

“I have been working hard off season and I know that clocking a new PB is not easy. Competition has been good in the past two BAA competitions. Tomorrow I want to continue where I left off in the 100m and 200m,” she said.

During the Francistown track meeting, Matlhaku won the 100m race with a time of 11.96 before powering to the finishing line in the 200m in a time of 26.01.

Matlhaku said she has not qualified for the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, but will compete as a member of the 4x400m relay team member.

EVENT INFORMATION: Athletix Grand Prix Series

Dates and Venues:

Thursday, 01 March 2018
Ruimsig Stadium, Johannesburg
Thursday, 08 March 2018
Bestmed Tuks Stadium, Tshwane
Thursday, 22 March 2018
Dal Josafat Stadium, Paarl